This apple Tarte Tatin recipe is a classic French dessert. It features delicious caramelized apples and a buttery pastry crust. In this post, I walk you through Julia Child's recipe step-by-step to ensure success! This is one of my favorite fall desserts and the finished product will easily be a show stopper at your next dinner party!
Why you'll love this recipe
Taste and Texture: Tarte Tatin consists of caramelized apple slices oven-baked in a skillet with the pastry on top. When done, it is turned upside-down, so the crust is on the bottom, and the apple slices remain in a design on top. The process of caramelizing the apples makes this dessert a delicious treat that is both sweet and tart.
Difficulty: This recipe is one of the easiest desserts I’ve attempted to make, but also has its distinct challenges. It’s easy because it’s baked upside down and the final presentation requires simply flipping the pan upside down! The tricky part is caramelizing the apples!
Key ingredients and why we use them
This apple Tarte Tatin recipe has a few key ingredients that I want to talk about a little more. Using quality ingredients is key to success with this recipe!
Apples: Apples are the star of this recipe. The best apples to bake with are firm enough to hold their shape during the baking process. I recommend golden delicious apples in the recipe below.
Butter: Cold butter is a must in this recipe. This is how you achieve that flaky and delicious crust that you want. I recommend using a quality brand of unsalted butter.
Cake Flour: This recipe uses a small amount of cake flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content and will produce a dough that is a little more tender. You don't want to omit this when making this recipe.
Perhaps the most notable part of this recipe is the pan I used to cook the tart. On a trip to Paris last fall, my parents visited E. Dehellerin. Tucked away on rue Coquillière not too far from the Louvre, this store has sold cookware for professionals and serious home chefs since 1820. Julia Child was a regular here purchasing kitchenware while attending school at Le Cordon Bleu.
Knowing that E. Dehellerin is famous for their copper, my dad purchased a Tarte Tatin pan explicitly made for this recipe. I was pleased to learn that not only does copper conduct heat faster, but it also does so much more evenly. This combination is perfect for temperature control when working with sugar at a high temperature. Thanks, dad!
Frequently asked questions
After you take your tart out of the oven, you can test whether it’s ready to be unmolded. Simply tilt the pan, and if the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, boil down rapidly on top of the stove. However, be sure not to evaporate them entirely, or the apples will stick to the pan.
If a few apples stick to the pan—which does happen—fear not! Simply rearrange the slices as necessary. This almost always happened to me, so it's pretty common.
The best apples to bake with are firm enough to hold their shape during the baking process. I recommend golden delicious apples in the recipe below.
More about Julia Child's recipe
The following recipe is courtesy of Julia Child’s book The Way to Cook, published in 1994. A Christmas gift from my dad several years ago, this is a magnificent cookbook in which Julia distills her knowledge from a lifetime of cooking into one book. She states that this recipe is her fourth and definitive recipe for Tarte Tatin in the book.
Try these other apple recipes
Don't stop baking with this apple Tarte Tatin recipe! Check out some more of our delicious apple recipes linked below.
Our recipe index is a great place to search all My Sweet Precision recipes!
Apple Tarte Tatin Recipe
- 10-inch heavy ovenproof skillet or copper tarte tatin mold
- ¾ cups flour
- ¼ cup cake flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter chilled and diced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening chilled
- ¼ cup ice water
- 6 golden delicious apples cored, peeled, and halved
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- whipped cream or vanilla ice cream optional as accompaniment
Preparing the Dough
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flours, sugar and butter. Pulse 5 or 6 times in ½-second bursts to break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately add the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times.
- The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold together in a mass when a handful is pressed together. If the mixture is too dry, pulse in more water by droplets.
- Turn the dough out onto the work surface and with the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs into a 6-inch smear. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).
Preparing the Apples
- Quarter, core, and peel the apples; cut the quarters in half lengthwise.
- Toss in a bowl with the lemon and ½ cup of sugar, and let steep 20 minutes so they will exude their juices. Drain them.
- Set the frying pan over moderately high heat with the butter, and when melted blend in the remaining 1 cup sugar.
- Stir about with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a bubbly caramel brown – it will smooth out later, when the apples juices dissolve the sugar.
Arranging Apples in Pan
- Remove from heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan to make an attractive design.
- Arrange the rest of the apples on top, close-packed, and only reasonably neat. Add enough so that they heap up 1 inch higher than the rim of the pan – they sink down as they cook.
Preliminary Stovetop Cooking
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for the next step, placing the rack in the lower middle level. Set the pan again over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften, and drawing the accumulated juices up over them with the bulb baster – basting gives the apples a deliciously buttery caramel flavor.
- In several minutes, when the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough.
The Dough Cover
- The dough cover. Roll the chilled dough into a circle 3/16 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the top of your pan. Cut 4 steam holes, ¼-inch size, 1 ½ inches from around the center of the dough. ween the apples and the inside of the pan.
- Working rapidly, fold the dough in half, then in quarters; center the point over the apples. Unfold the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the dough down bet
Bake and Serve
- Bake and serve. Bake about 20 minutes at 425 degrees F. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped.
- Being careful of the red-hot pan handle, remove from the oven. Still remembering that the pan is red-hot, turn the serving dish upside down over the apples and reverse the two to unmold the tart. Serve hot, warm, or cold, with the optional whipped cream or ice cream.
Notes and Tips
Did you make this recipe?! First, let me say THANK YOU for giving it a try!
Please leave us a rating and feedback in the comments section at the bottom of this post. I always love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what went well — and didn't — with a recipe!